Welcome back to school. Now let’s fight for every school and teacher

Dear members,

We hope that you had a good holiday and are rested and ready to go back to school. We are sure that it probably took two weeks to wind down and last week to wind back up again, which makes a mockery of Gove’s plans to shorten the summer holiday to four weeks. Despite the uproar over the changes to the GCSE grades – which at a stroke affected thousands of young people’s life chances – no doubt you will rightly be looking forward to new pupils, new groups and a new school year, since teachers are the most optimistic people on the planet. However, the job is also becoming more pressured year by year and more insecure so my guess is that you are also feeling that, as you return to work this week. This loss of job security comes from the same place: the GOVEnment, but comes in two forms:

*threat of academisation/privatisation usually nowadays through an OFSTED inspection or through the threat of a poor OFSTED inspection – schools decide under great pressure to become academies. Fifty-five Free School also will open this week too, and with their poorer working conditions and non-qualified staff this is a threat to the profession.

*the changes to performance management/capability arrangements – no doubt to be rolled out this week as part of the INSET.  This has been covered by us on this site already with the key thing to know is that in our discusssions with Southwark LEA we agreed to separate appraisal from capability, and so you you should see this separation too in the SEPARATE appraisal and capability policies being presented to you no doubt this week – please let us know if your school has gone with Gove’s model which is one policy combining appraisal and capability – since this is not what was agreed locally and the school would then need to re-consult with staff.

It is into this backdrop that the NUT’s workload ballot closes on Thursday – there is still time to vote, online is quicker. If you haven’t received a ballot paper then today is your last chance call: 020 7380 6300 (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm) or email action@nut.org.uk you will need your membership details etc.

The workload ballot and its talk of non-strike action is key for me. Although the fight is with the government over OFSTED’s fear-driven workload, this will come dowm to members in schools deciding to e.g, not hand in weekly planning, not attend more than one hour meeting etc, not be observed more than once a term. We would then hope that headteachers who are also under the same pressures would understand this – since ultimately sacrificing career and health for the sake of a bullying, biased agent of privatisation such as OFSTED is only a short term solution – eventually OFSTED and Gove will have privatised the whole system if we play ball. The ballot will return a YES vote I am sure, the key then will be members meeting and agreeing what they will and won’t do, what they will and won’t put up with. With any action protected by the ballot. For me, this is about saving the profession. Since a cowed micro-managed profession isn’t a profession anymore its a job, and a job that someone only can do for three years and then burn out and not till sixty-eight as the GOVEnment suggests.

Alongside this worload action (strike action and non strike action) to be taken with the NASUWT (so let’s have joint union meetings in schools) the pensions fight continues with escalating action (one day strike then two day strikes etc ) starting with a strike around the 20th October to time in with the Tory conference and TUC demo.

Let’s wait for the workload ballot result announced on Thursday and then take back the profession to be one that you would reccomend your child to do again, one day soon.

We would love to come in and discuss this with you and the other members at your school – to organise a meeting post ballot result email: secretary:southwarknut.org.uk or text/call 07983475050

Michael Davern

Joint Secretary



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